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By midlandsmovies, Jan 17 2019 09:02PM



The Favourite (2019) Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos


Olivia Colman stars as Queen Anne in this bawdy black comedy-drama that sees the eccentric and frail head of state avoid her kingdom’s woes as she gets caught up in a tit-for-tat but serious squabble between her confidante Sarah and Sarah’s poorer cousin Abigail.


La La Land’s Emma Stone plays Abigail Hill, a fallen woman who arrives caked in mud and is soon to set to work as a maid amongst the luxurious palace rooms. Despite undertaking menial labour she has her sights set on bigger things and begins a surreptitious plan to move up society’s ladder by usurping Sarah (Rachel Weisz) in the Queen’s affections.


Abigail begins by assisting the Queen with her ailments before planting more sinister seeds to curry favour with the throne. Once it is revealed that Sarah is in fact involved in a lesbian affair with the monarch, Abigail discovers another way into the Queen’s good books – via her bed.


Lanthimos shoots his film with glorious cinematography using wide angle and fisheye lenses to show the vast spaces in the stately house, and the sumptuous chequered floors provide a metaphorical board for the chess pieces to play out their game. The pawns of Weisz and Stone try to checkmate the Queen but their false appearance of power is not quite the same as the actual divine power of royalty.


There’s plenty of humour to be had as well and the three leads are nothing short of phenomenal on screen. Funny when needed, whilst also showing vulnerability and empathy, the trio of amazing actresses fully come into their own with their vicious put downs and deliciously devilsome dialogue.


A (very small) hint of Trading Places occurs as Stone’s lowly serf becomes a lady in waiting whilst Weisz’s influential lover is brought to her knees when she is drugged and almost killed after falling from her horse.


The fine female cast are pushed to the forefront whilst the men in court definitely take second fiddle. And as the women fire guns, slap each other and drink heartily, the males are caked in make-up and wigs and pushed behind in an interesting twist on the period drama formula.


Nicholas Hault as Robert Harley is the best of the background bunch where he gets to act like a total arse throughout and is given some of the best and most profane dialogue, playing his own games in parliament and beyond.


But it really is Colman, Stone and Weisz’s show. The power games, the flip-flopping and the sparring of physical and verbal humour are delivered impeccably by all three and allow the actresses to create fully-rounded characters we can sympathise with. Yet the audience can just as easily hate when the trio’s primal and nasty game-playing comes to prominence. But either way, their conniving deceits provide plenty of juicy drama to enjoy.


Stylistically it couldn’t be further from the director’s previous film The Killing of a Sacred Deer (review here) which appeared in our Top 20 of 2017 which was far slower, slightly meandering (in a good way) and conceptually abstract. Whilst this is far more accessible, similar mythical and classical themes are explored where power, retribution and revenge all come in to play throughout the narrative.


The lighting is natural and adds to the period realism where night time scenes are lit by candle flame echoing a similar technique seen in Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon whilst the score utilises the classic music of composers like Handel and Bach.


Whilst its historical accuracy can be hotly debated, like Tarantino’s take on history I don’t see this as some quasi-realistic portrait and it sure has far more in common with a Carry On film than period-precise documentation. That said, with Anne keeping 17 rabbits to represent each of her child-bearing tragedies, Lanthimos doesn’t let the humorous aspects stop him from exploring the morbid issues of motherhood, dominance and sovereignty in all its forms.


However, with its added darkness and the Machiavellian machinations of the three protagonists, the film is full to the brim with incredible performances alongside some eccentricities in its technical aspects, plus we mustn’t forget its terrific quip-filled script. The Favourite therefore is a formidable film from a director who takes weighty themes and provides a theatre for three mighty actresses to deliver some of the best performances of the year and possibly of their career.


★★★★ ½


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Sep 28 2017 08:58AM



The Beguiled (2017) Dir. Sofia Coppola


Based on the novel of the same name, Sofia Coppola was only the second female to win the Best Director Award at Cannes for this film set at a girl’s school in the Deep South during the American Civil War. With only teacher Edwina Morror (Nicole Kidman) and five students left at the school house, they find and take in Colin Farrell’s injured corporal soldier where the the ladies tend to him in a locked room.


Copolla fills her plantation location with lots of moody silences but these later turn to screams as the repressed women deal with the soldier’s attentions. Cleaning Farrell’s wounds in a scene of sexual/religious tension, the film plays with ideas of femininity and sexuality and its natural light gives the movie authenticity but this results in it being under-lit at times. As a chamber piece, it uses the technical staging of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon by using windows and candles to provide the only in-house lighting, but again, sometimes to a confusingly dark fault.


Critic Tim Robey surmised Barry Lyndon by saying audiences and reviewers railed “against the perceived coldness of Kubrick's style, the film's self-conscious artistry and slow pace” and I’d argue the exact same accusations can be leveled here.


The mesmerising framing shows Copolla's fine artistry and the cast deliver the melodramatic lines with grace but everyone’s done far better historical/literary work elsewhere. Also, the snail’s pacing hindered my own engagement despite Dunst and Farrell’s explosive scenes – which are great but few and far between.


With more drama and conflict, the film does improve in its second half and can be seen as a complimentary (or development) venture to Copolla’s own The Virgin Suicides (1999). The themes and female cast (especially Dunst’s repeat appearance) echo the director’s previous literary foray into a woman-filled and prison-like house.


Measured and controlled, the lack of narrative thrust and extremely long set-up, despite its short runtime of 93 minutes, sadly makes The Beguiled a rather ponderous affair. This is ultimately frustrating given its many positive performances and interesting representations of control, seduction and temptation. Charming but deceiving.


6/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Feb 14 2016 07:13PM




Local filmmaker Emily Jasper is crowdfunding for her new project which is an historical drama of danger and adventure on the old highways of Britain.


Midlands movie maker Emily Jasper is a media and film production student who is taking the next leap in her career as she begins the ground work for her new exciting project. This aspiring cinematographer is also involved in still photography and has put plans together for a period drama film that's a world away from her previous work.


Written, directed and edited by Emily, her 2015 short film "Trek" followed the journey of two brothers in a dense forest and allowed Emily to experiment with her creative visions with a small cast but with big ideas.


In addition, Emily’s creative endeavours have broadened out to include short promo videos for bands and even a taekwondo club run by Clive Harrison – an impressive 8th Dan with over 41 years experience in martial arts - to showcase a wide range of commercial interests.


Her next project is an ambitious film currently with the working title “The Highwaywoman”. She plans to create the story as a short period drama set during the Stuart period. The film is based around the legend of famous highway bandits and in particular, a female highwayman called Anne Lovell.


Emily describes the story as a woman who is “bored by the everyday life of a woman living in the Stuart period, that goes on to seek excitement and danger”.


“She chooses to don a cloak and mask to cause terror on the roads as a highwayman”, Emily adds.


“When she meets William Shotbolt an infamous dangerous highwayman her desire is fuelled even more”.


The narrative continues as despite having a loving sister and a fiancé in her life, Anne wants more and must choose between the simple life and adventure.


With a great setup established, the next stage is for Emily to begin crowdfunding (which lasts until May - see link below) with an added incentive that 10% of all donations go to the RSPCA Animal Charity.


Finally, Emily has arranged for costume artwork by Hannah Hall to be designed which has already got the ball rolling, and she has high hopes for her new work. Emily plans to begin filming soon and in the meantime, please check out her personal showreel on the VIMEO video above.


Emily Jasper links:


TWITTER: https://twitter.com/EmilyJas


THE HIGHWAYWOMAN CROWD FUNDING: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-highwaywoman


EMILY JASPER’S VIMEO PAGE https://vimeo.com/emilyjasper



By midlandsmovies, Dec 16 2015 09:01AM

Crimson Peak (2015) Dir. Guillermo Del Toro


With his unique aesthetic and production design Del Toro tackles the little-seen genre (these days) of the gothic horror romance.


More drama than horror (the ghosts of the trailer are a little misleading, the film stars Mia Wasikowska as a young writer (allusions to Bronte, Mary Shelley and more are the obvious parallels) who gets whisked off her feet by Tom Hiddleston’s Sir Thomas Sharpe.


Also along for the ride is Jessica Chastain as Thomas’ sister Lady Lucille Sharpe – a blunt woman with a dark past. With creepy corridors and monstrous mansions, Del Toro brings great visuals to a less than visionary tale. In all honesty, the characters have little development and you won’t need a literary degree to work out everyone’s motivations, backstory and subsequent outcome the second they step on screen.


The cast is great and the opulent interiors and wintery exteriors are a joy for the eyes but for the brain, the lack of surprises in the narrative really harmed my enjoyment of the film. That said, there are far more positives than negatives and Del Toro’s inimitable concepts (just about) keep the film from descending into a bloody mess.


7/10


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, Oct 27 2015 01:19PM

Top 10 things to check out for Lincolnshire film fans


After our Top 10 covering the best of Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and West Midlands film-making talent we shift our focus to Lincolnshire to find out 10 of the best things a film fan can look out for in and around the county.


Lincolnshire Cathedral

The third largest cathedral in Britain after St Paul's and York Minster, Lincolnshire Cathedral owns one of only four surviving copies of Magna Carta from 1215 but has also played host to a number of blockbuster feature films, often doubling for Westminster Abbey in London. Filmed in September 2007 this was the case with Young Victoria and also the controversial “The Da Vinci Code”. Oscar-winner Tom Hanks played Robert Langdon in the film which caused a storm of controversy over its questioning of many of the key beliefs of Christianity. Officials from the Abbey refused to allow filming to take place inside, claiming that the book is "theologically unsound". To arrange a visit and follow the Cathedral’s many events please check their Twitter account here: https://twitter.com/LincsCathedral


The Drift by Backyard Productions

An already successful sci-fi, The Drift is no average independent film having been created with a crew of over 100 and with help from many local businesses in Lincolnshire. With a limited local budget of just £5000, the film took 3 years to make (all in everyone’s spare time) and the cast and crew were all volunteers but the ambition does not stop just there. With a feature length 100-minute run time and over 1300 Visual Effect shots they also built sets over 9 months and did 2 years of visual effects production, matching and even surpassing many a Hollywood blockbuster. Formed in 1993, Backyard Productions began with three teenagers making short movies in the garden before quickly moving on to making their first feature. From there, the “company” grew to include friends and family members, making parodies based on Batman, Indiana Jones and Star Wars with all productions being self-funded and helping to raise money for charity. For more insight check out http://bypuk.com/movies/drift/ and view The Drift's exciting trailer here - https://www.youtube.com/embed/aXFILnob3AA


Read our article on the film here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Spotlight---The-Drift/9207663


Lincolnshire Film and Digital Media

Lincolnshire Film and Digital Media is run by multi-award winning, professional film maker Phillip Lofas whose background is in film production. His company uses state of the art video and media equipment to deliver professional quality work which specialises in offering high quality services as well as training within the county for aspiring filmmakers. With a respected track record in delivering education and training to a range of organisations they cover a wide variety of media training topics including script writing, pre-production, filming & mastering as well as sessions on lighting, sound and animation. Read more about this exciting organisation to develop your skills with a professional and local team here: http://www.lincolnshire-filmmaker.co.uk


Lincolnshire Film Archive

The LFA is a registered charity set up in 1986 to locate and preserve motion film showing life and work in all parts of the county. Covering wartime reels as well as many other decades, their films are available to enthusiastic cinematographers with local historical events such as the first post-war Royal Show, the Festival of Britain and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II amongst archive footage available. Further footage comes in their “A Century on Film” series which focus on everything from World War 2 right through to the Victory celebrations of 1945. Drawing on its extensive motion picture collection, much of it has never before been made available for home viewing, the LFA sets out to present a wide-ranging picture of over a hundred years of Lincolnshire life. For an up-to-date list of videos and details of how to order, see www.primetimevideo.co.uk or check their main website: http://www.lincsfilm.co.uk


Movie Locations

We have already mentioned how The Da Vinci Code was partially filmed in Lincolnshire but as well as the infamous cathedral, the county has provided picturesque buildings for many more movies. However, one of these locations was again utilised in The Da Vinci Code, where Burghley House in Stamford near Peterborough was used for the interiors of ‘Castel Gandolfo’. Not solely focusing on that film though, Jan De Bont's The Haunting (1999) was filmed at Harlaxton Manor (Great Hall) in Grantham whilst Thunderball (1965) used RAF Waddington for the film's Airforce base runway scene. Not content with just those well-known classics, Lincoln can claim to be the location of certain scenes in the little-known The Emerald Forest (1985) whilst more famously, The Dam Busters (1955) with its “bouncing bombs” was partly filmed in the area. The coastal marshes from Atonement (2007) are at Gedney Drove End, a beach on the Wash and finally Pride and Prejudice (2005) was filmed in Lincoln where Burghley House (again) stood in for Rosings, while the adjacent town of Stamford served as Meryton. For more info on Burghley House check their official site: http://www.burghley.co.uk


Lincoln Shorts

The 5th annual Lincoln Shorts film festival showcased local film-making talent from Lincolnshire and the surrounding areas in October 2015. Previous screenings at the annual film event left audiences excited and amazed by the wealth and breadth of film-making talent right on their doorstep — film-making they may never knew existed. This annual event regularly takes submissions from a wide range of genres from comedy, drama, music and factual and all have a local Lincoln connection. Examples may be that it was filmed or edited locally or someone in the cast or crew may be originally from or lives in Lincolnshire or even studied in the area. Screening shorts (films should be five minutes or under) the last event was a great success at Lincoln’s Drill Hall and submissions will soon be open for filmmakers to submit their newest creations for the 2016 festival.

http://www.lincolnshorts.co.uk/latest/


The LAFTAS

The LAFTAs (Lincolnshire Awards for Film, Teamwork and Animation) is now in its ninth year and has become a key event in many schools' calendars and a regular event not to be missed. These annual film awards are for 3 - 19 year olds and showcase/celebrate the films and animations made by children and young people. The scheme has supported thousands of young people, teachers and schools through training, advice and guidance. Last year 40 schools submitted over 100 films and were judged by an independent panel consisting of experts from the film industry and education. All prizes were presented by the LAFTAs patron, Oscar and BAFTA winner, Jim Broadbent, who was born in Lincolnshire in 1949. Every year Jim dedicates time to viewing all of the shortlisted films to choose his favourite Primary age and Secondary age winner. Further information at: http://www.laftas.co.uk


Crow’s Eye

Crow’s Eye is a Production Company based in Lincolnshire involving the joint creative team of Nick and Pauline Loven. Covering a wide variety of work from feature length and short films as well as costume drama and music videos, Nick is a filmmaker with 15 years of experience and established his company Crow’s Eye Productions in 2005. Also available as a freelance camera operator, Nick uses broadcast standard equipment and for his most recent film set on First World War battlefields, he undertook pyrotechnic training. Crow’s Eye Productions also has its own Period Costume Wardrobe Department run by Pauline Loven, a costumier with 30 years’ experience. Check out the brilliant work of this dynamic duo at their websites and Twitter links below:


Twitter @CrowseyeUK http://www.crowseye.co.uk Twitter @periodwardrobe http://www.periodcostume.co.uk


Lincoln Film Society

The LFS is a small group of cinephiles who regularly meet at the Venue at Bishop Grosseteste University College in Lincoln. Publishing a set programme for each season, films are selected based on member’s suggestions and research by the Society’s committee. The ‘programme’ is never too specialist because their members have a wide taste in movies and the club also screens other one-off films as well. The Venue’s 230 capacity auditorium with fixed rake seating is the perfect location for the society which also allows temporary members to see films but heartily recommends full membership which can save people money over the course of a year. Like most film societies, Lincoln Film Society requires membership and has reasonable rates for those wishing to join. If interested please email lfs-membership@hotmail.co.uk for more information.

http://www.lincolnfilmsociety.com


BlackBeetle Films

Last but certainly not least is the brand new production company from Lincolnshire. They are currently fundraising for their debut short film Every Waking Breath which follows the story of Abigail Burton - a young woman who is haunted by the death of her parents when she was a child. After years of mourning she decides that there is only one way she can gain closure - by finding the man responsible and exacting revenge. With very high expectations, the team of Josh Brown (Producer) Scott Driver (Writer/Director), Joel Dunn-Wilson (DoP), Jake Greenan (Sound), Oliver Cowton (Art Director) & Harry Kumar (Editor) have set a preliminary fundraising target of £1,000 at IndieGoGo and have already surpassed their goal. Formed within the well-known Media Production course at the Lincoln School of Film and Media (https://www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/fm) the group will utilise the industry-standard, purpose-built facilities at the University to complete the project.


Check their updates here: https://twitter.com/BlackBeetleFilm

Fundraising campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/every-waking-breath-a-short-film#/


Midlands Movies Mike

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